NatureScot decision on Dunnet Forest sale announced

5 May 2020

A local trust has ambitious plans for land at Dunnet Forest, Caithness, following a community asset transfer agreement with NatureScot.

Dunnet Forest – a popular recreational area with a network of sheltered forest footpaths – is currently managed by the community trust under a lease from NatureScot. The trust manages the forest for public recreation, restoring natural habitats and selling firewood. Covering around 105 hectare, the area is part of the Dunnet Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Sally Thomas, NatureScot’s Director of People and Nature, said:

“This agreement is excellent news, and NatureScot is really pleased to sell the land to the Dunnet Forestry Trust. The trust has put a lot of work into managing the forest under a lease agreement with us for the last 18 years. We believe that community ownership will allow them to increase their work in the forest, leading to many new initiatives and public benefits.”

The trust is now working on a long-term forest plan for the period from 2020-25. Under the proposed plan, woodland enhancement will continue to be a core activity. The trust is also committed to visitor improvements, including providing all-abilities access, a children’s play area, vegetable plots, and a small scale sawmill.

David Glass, Vice Chairman of the Dunnet Forestry Trust, said:

“We are all absolutely delighted that the trust’s asset transfer request has been agreed by NatureScot’s board and thank them for the speed and efficiency with which they assessed our request.  We look forward to taking ownership of this important community asset in Caithness and are now awaiting the results of our Stage 2 application to the Scottish Land Fund which was submitted in March.” 

The Dunnet Forestry Trust has applied for a grant under the Scottish Land Fund to buy the land from NatureScot. The trust has passed the first stage, which means it has been judged as an eligible project and is now awaiting word on their Stage 2 application.